April 7, 2009
Now I have proof that this is not a recent whim!
Tonight I was going through my old Yahoo! account (which I had accessed to set up this Web site) and found a bunch of old emails going back to 2004. My nostalgic curiosity piqued, I started reviewing messages between my husband and me. So, fewer than ten emails in, what a shock it was to find an email written in 2004, titled "JWs Big Idea, or Why We Should Buy an RV." Clearly a sign that I am on the right track, don't you think? Even back then (and I am sure that was not the first time) I was trying to make the persuasive case to my dear (poor?) husband!
So, the current status is that I've got my RV rental booked for April 21st-April 28th. This is supposed to be my test run to see if I really know what I am getting into. Not surprisingly, I have read absolutely everything I could get my hands on with regard to RVs, including all the tending and maintenance required. Based on all of that research (as well as one short test drive at a local RV dealership), I think I want a 24-25 foot class C with a slide out and rear kitchen. That keeps it small enough to easily navigate city streets (well, we'll see about that later this month), but also gives me enough space to comfortably live inside. I've rented something pretty close to that through CruiseAmerica for $800 for one week. We'll see!
April 21, 2009
Here comes the test drive....
I woke up this morning at 3:30 am, sick with nervousness about my crazy plan for this RV road trip. I rented from a major rental agency for lots of reasons, one of which included the required one hour RV orientation. Having never really driven or operated an RV before, I knew this was critical for me. So, I call them this morning to ask how the orientation was going to work. Man on the phone, talking as fast as he can, says, "I'm sorry, ma'am, but I am the only one here today. I don't have time for an orientation!" Okay, off to a good start...
So, no surprise that I also pre-drove the route home in my car, so I knew exactly what to expect on my first RV drive ever... on Interstate 35...with no orientation.... One good thing is that my RV has giant "1-800 RV-RENTAL!" graphics all over it, so I consider that fair warning to other drivers that a complete novice is manning this machine.... (Feels a lot like when my fellow waiters used to surreptitiously tape a big "Harass Me I'm New" sign to my back.)
The drive home was wonderfully uneventful. Driving her feels a lot like navigating the old 1978 Lincoln with the boat like steering. Anyway, I made it safely home and am washing (it had a creepy, not-so-clean vibe to it) and packing her up. Here she is - my new best friend for the week!
April 21, 2009
Maiden Voyage part II...
Deciding that I should go for one more test drive before morning, I took a quick cruise in the RV to the grocery store to stock up. (Those of you who know me are already aware that I actually drive to a store several miles away, past two very similar grocery stores, but we'll leave it at that.)
In any case, this route required a quite perilous journey down a weaving and narrow (for an RV, at least) road. It was the most amazing thing - no car would even come near me! It was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I mean, I have a slow reaction time and do not consider myself to be the best driver. (A few frightening squeals as my tires ran along the curb certainly confirmed that feeling.) But, this was the first time that all of the other drivers actually seemed to know to stay away from me! It was fabulous.
So, then a shopping trip. (Okay, the curious stares as I popped out of the giant rental RV at a residential grocery store were slightly unnerving, but it is still worth it.) I loaded up on groceries and experienced the joy of hanging out in my car to put everything away before leisurely driving off. I swear, this could turn into my daily driver. I mean, I can actually hang out and hide out in my car! This is the best! I am ready to take off in this thing...
April 22, 2009
I think I am going to like this...
I've made it to Seadrift, Texas! It was a slow drive for me. I chose to drive to Seadrift first because I thought the familiar route would make for a comfortable first trip. (Also thought it would be nice to track down my husband, who spends most of his time here.) It wasn't until this morning that I realized the first few minutes of my trip would include a terrorizing blind traffic merge over the river. Ugh. I was sick with nervousness, once again. So, at about 8:15 am I hit the road. As I approached the deadly blind merge, I looked as best I could, stayed hard to the left, and prayed that any car would have enough room to stay right and figure out how to make it work. From my vantage point, it looked like it turned out okay. (As an fyi, my sister Joeyclaire, expert RV driver, told me she just drives where she needs to go and listens for horns honking. No blaring horns means all is well. Of course, I think that might be a metaphor for her whole life.)
So then, just a few minutes out of Austin, I saw a giant field of blazing yellow wildflowers. It was so beautiful that it was hard to keep my eyes on the road. At that point, my enthusiasm finally overpowered my terror. The drive was still difficult for me at first. Parts of the road were in poor shape and every time I hit a bump or depression it felt like I was trying to navigate a boat on a rough sea, but once I got to a smoother road, as well as learned to stop trying to overcorrect, it got a lot easier. Still, it was uncomfortable when cars got too close to me as they tried to pass, but I learned to careen a bit in and out of the lane as I saw them gaining on me from behind. With that they seemed to know they should proceed around me with extreme caution. Seriously, it was amazing how well that worked. No one cut me off too closely after that...
Now I am here for one night with David. Tomorrow I hit the road for my solo trip through the Texas Hill Country. Hopefully it is not too late for more wildflowers!
Thanks for all of the notes of encouragement and advice. As an fyi, when you use the 'contact' form, it does not post to the blog, but does send me a message. That is why they are not showing up online like my previous blogs.
Oh, and one more question for RV experts. I have "full hook ups" here in Seadrift and have a question about water. I see I have a city water connection on my driver side, but on the passenger side I have a 'potable' water fill connection. Do I connect to the city water if my freshwater tanks are full? If I do connect and the tanks are full, does that create a problem? When they are empty do I refill in that other tank? Or does being connected to city water refill my tanks? How does that work? (Remember, I didn't get an orientation on this thing....)
Today's view from inside the RV
Seadrift Shrimpboats coming in at the end of the day.
It's like your own private island... in Cuba... called Guantanamo...
Okay, so night number one was a little rough. Considering that David and I do not live in the same house, or even the same city, the prospect of putting us together in less than 200 sq ft for 24 hours was probably a bad idea. After a sleepless night in an awkward crouched position on the short bed, David woke me up with, "Okay, I'll tell you everything! It was me who tracked mud in the den! I am the one who broke the perfume bottle!"
Seriously, it was pretty close to torture - the bed in back is too short for either of us and the whole RV moved every time one of us rolled over. And after an uncomfortable night, the ergonomically bad chair and dining set were not exactly pleasant. My fantasy was that I could turn my RV into my own personal Four Seasons with expensive sheets, fresh foods, great coffee, and all the comforts of home. Instead, I feel like I've paid $1,000 to guarantee that I was in a motel 6 every night this week.
Right now, I am imagining that I need something a bit more luxurious and spacious, something like a 27 foot Class A. But, I've driven to the KOA campground on the way to the Texas Hill Country and will see how a night of solitary sleep adjusts my attitude about how functional this style of RV would be.
(I'll leave my story of playing chicken with a big truck while merging onto the interstate as well as a far more elaborate tire squealing episode for another blog.) As for now, it is 4:30 pm and way past the wine hour. That is really not too early, considering I will probably be asleep by 6:30 pm.
April 24, 2009
I never knew chocolate chip cookie dough, straight from the package, could be so comforting.
I like travel. I like adventure. I like thrilling, boundary pushing challenges. I do not, however, like RV parks.
I am in Kerrville, Texas. Actually, at a very beautiful spot on the Guadalupe River. If I were here completely alone, it would be lovely. But, you see, I am not here completely alone. I am here with almost 200 of my insta-friends who want to chat with me about RVing and to invite me to the River Rock Saloon party tonight (free meatballs and veggies!). These are truly very nice people. Very patriotic people with lots of US Flags on their clothes, cars, and pets.
What I like about travel is the (oftentimes stressful) immersion into a completely foreign experience or culture. Renting an apartment in a residential community, having to find the local haunts and coffee shops, walking around and getting lost (yes,that part happens a lot). And, while this is certainly a foreign immersion at some level, it does start to feel like it is a bit on 'repeat'.
I want to drive across the US and see and experience all of the different sites and cities. Driving an RV seems like I could end up spending a lot of time in strikingly similar concrete RV parks outside of the main city or town while having to do all of my shopping at Walmart supercenters.
RV park travel reminds me of a friend I had who loved to travel to Club Meds all across the world. I went to a couple and was miserable with how they were all so, so similar (and also painfully social with group dinners every night). At this point, I would prefer to be in my car - driving faster and more cheaply - and staying at local hotels and bed and breakfasts in the middle of great cities and towns.
Today's view from the RV
April 25, 2009
Amazing what a day of reading and sleeping can do
My plan was to drive a beautiful route through the Hill Country today, but that plan got nixed due to high winds and possible rain. So, instead, I enjoyed a wonderful day of being lazy, reading, and just hanging out in the RV. I realized I had been driving every day, so the kicking back and seeing how comfortable I could be was pretty nice.
I think I had just gotten overtired and overwhelmed with the stressful novelty of it all, so by the end of the day yesterday I was miserable and wanted to go home. Yesterday was a particularly difficult drive through San Antonio, with rain, useless windshield wipers that just smeared dirt, no windshield wiper fluid, bad city traffic, and then massive wind gusts (outside of town) that literally blew me on to the shoulder several times. At one point in San Antonio I had to make a very quick change into the fast lane to avoid a fast merging tractor trailer. (I have such poor acceleration that my getting into the fast lane really screws things up for everyone...) At another point I had to lay on my horn as a small truck decided he was going to try to get ahead of me when he was way too far back to make it and ended up pushing me onto the shoulder instead.(Again, I can decelerate to a certain extent to let people get ahead of me, but I would have had to slow down way too much.) Then I got lost in a pretty sketchy part of town... much to the entertainment of passerbys watching this lumbering "1-800-RV-RENTAL!" making u-turn after u-turn.
Still, there were parts of it that I really did enjoy. I do love the 'road trip' euphoria once I get out of the city and am just driving someplace new. I loved the flexibility of stopping at a rest stop to rest, make lunch, and just kick back in the RV for an hour. (Especially after that perilous drive.) I love the beautiful views. I love the sense that I can just go anywhere. And, despite my complaints about RV Park culture, I do love how comfortable and safe I feel here. (For those of you who are less familiar with RV parks, one of their great benefits is the 'full hook up', which means you can use all the water and electricity that you want, eg. hot showers.)
So, I am back to thinking I want an RV. David joked that I was doing in the RV exactly what I do at home - read, study, relax, etc., but, the fact that I can travel AND have that kicked back comfort when I want and need it is exactly the kind of flexibility that I am seeking.
I think having the RV in a park, plus a scooter to drive around would be perfect. The parked and hooked up RV is a huge convenience, but having something that I could drive around in a local area without having to completely pack up the RV (which is more involved than you'd think) would make a big difference...
Anyway, I am going to get back to my book. It is more interesting that this blog.